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Criminal Defense Attorneys

Santa Ana Courthouse, Two Grand Theft Convictions Vacated

Our client was born in Mexico and, with his parents, immigrated to the U.S. at age thirteen in 1981.  In 1984, he was given a green card as a permanent legal resident.  He then lived in California for over forty-one years.

Since arriving here, he created a strong bond with the United States.  He attended U.C.L.A. for three years.  He started several companies and provided employment to dozens of people  

In the course and scope of president of one of his companies, a debt consolidation and bankruptcy relief company, in November 2008, he breached a contract for a loan from two individuals.  He was then arrested and charged with two counts of grand theft.  

Such a case would normally not be regarded as criminal in nature.  It would be more properly resolved as a breach of contract action.  However, our client was well known in the community because he had a series of television commercials and police considered him untrustworthy.  The Orange County District Attorney’s office shared this impression.

This was really not true.  In fact, the victims in the case were paid in full after the case was filed.  The judge then reduced the charges to misdemeanors.  Our client then resolved the cases with three years of summary, or informal probation, no jail and minimal court fines.  At the time he entered his pleas, according to the docket, he was “advised of the possible consequence of plea affecting deportation and citizenship.”  

Thirteen years later, in 2013, our client attempted to renew his green card and was told these two convictions barred him because they were considered crimes involving moral turpitude.  This caused him to lose sleep and live in constant fear of being deported back to Mexico, abandoning his three-year old daughter and her mother, leaving them alone in the United States without support.

He then called up Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg Hill.  He described the case facts and Greg explained what a judge would consider in ruling on a motion to vacate a conviction under Penal Code § 1473.7(a)(1).

Greg asked certain questions and the client explained that when he entered his guilty pleas with his then–defense counsel, he was not subjectively aware of the adverse immigration consequences of his plea to him personally.  After all, he was a permanent resident with a valid green card at the time, so he did not believe his residency could be affected if he was a permanent resident.  He did not believe he could be deported if he was a permanent resident.  His attorney even affirmed this to him.

Moreover, he was intimidated by his attorney and did not ask her any further questions.  In Mexican culture, an attorney is highly respected, so he followed all her advice, which was to enter pleas to all the charges, trusting her that she knew what was best for him.  

In addition, our client had been in court many times and observed the judge give a similar admonition to every person entering a plea, even those who appeared to be obvious U.S. citizens).  He consequently regarded the admonition “script” as mandatory for the judge to give to each defendant entering a plea, regardless of whether it applied, and that it often did not apply to each defendant.  Our client did not believe it applied to him because he was a permanent resident with a valid green card.  .

He told Greg that had he known of the adverse immigration consequences of such pleas before agreeing to enter guilty pleas, he would not have voluntarily entered such pleas and would have instead told his attorney to continue negotiating for an immigration-neutral resolution or proceed to trial.  Instead, however, not knowing any better, he eagerly entered his guilty pleas.  All he was concerned about, ironically, was minimizing time in custody (the word “ironically” is used to emphasize that the immigration consequences of a plea, including deportation and exclusion, “may be more grave than the consequences that flow from the crime . . .” Kungyr v. United States (1988) 485 U.S. 759, 792, 108 S. Ct. 1537, 1557, 99 L. Ed. 2d 839).

Our client, now age 53, then hired Greg Hill & Associates to prepare, file, serve and appear on all hearings to have the two convictions in this case vacated under Penal Code § 1437.7(a)(1) because he wanted to renew his green card, become a U.S. citizen and end the constant anxiety of being deported at any time.  

Our office then prepared, filed and served the motion to vacate the convictions.

At the hearing for the motion, which was delayed four or five times because of difficulties the Orange County District Attorney’s office in assigning a prosecutor to the case, the Orange County District Attorney stipulated to vacate the convictions and then dismiss the case.  This was a great relief for our client.

For more information about a motion to vacate a conviction under Penal Code § 1473.7(a)(1), please click on the following articles:
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